DEAR ABBY: As someone who has been dealing with diabetes for most of my life, I've made a point to have regular medical checkups to keep a close watch on my cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels. For a long time, I thought I was doing everything I could to stay healthy.

What I didn't realize until I attended a free screening offered by the National Kidney Foundation was that diabetes is one of the leading causes of chronic kidney disease. This screening, called "KEEP" for Kidney Early Evaluation Program, is designed to detect kidney disease in the early stages in people like me who have diabetes and other health problems that put us at risk.

I knew I had diabetes. But KEEP identified my chronic kidney disease, and I have since been taking measures to keep it under control. I have also learned that doctors do not routinely screen for kidney function. Twenty million Americans -- that's one in every nine adults -- have chronic kidney disease, and 20 million MORE Americans remain at risk.

I'm writing to you, Abby, to ask you to let your readers know that if they suspect they have high blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of kidney disease, they, too, could be at risk. March 8 is World Kidney Day -- and it is the day the National Kidney Foundation is offering free KEEP screenings in 30 cities around the United States.

World Kidney Day is not a "holiday." It's a time to find out your family's history, assess whether you might be at risk and get checked out. Hopefully, it is also a day people can celebrate the idea of enjoying long, healthier lives for themselves and those they love ... for KEEPS!

-- ALMA McBRIDE, MERRITT ISLAND, FLA.

DEAR ALMA: Thank you for your helpful and informative letter. I, for one, was unaware that high blood pressure and diabetes -- in addition to a family history -- could make people more vulnerable to kidney disease.

Readers, to locate the KEEP screening nearest you, visit � HYPERLINK "http://www.keeponline.org" ��www.keeponline.org�, or call the National Kidney Foundation toll-free at (800) 622-9010.

Add your comments to the discussion.

DEAR ABBY: I share an apartment with my roommate, "Ally," whose boyfriend, "Todd," just moved in one day. We have our own rooms, but the wall dividing our rooms goes only halfway up, so I hear everything that they do -- including sex.

I can't stand it anymore! Todd never leaves because he doesn't have a job. While Ally works and goes to school, he lies around all day. She comes home and does Todd's laundry, cooks for him, cleans up after him and pays for everything. They have sex all the time, and it often wakes me up or keeps me awake at night.

I am paying over $1,000 a month, and I have reached the end of my rope. I don't know how to address it. Please help me. -- TEARING MY HAIR OUT IN ILLINOIS

DEAR TEARING MY HAIR OUT: It is time to inform your roommate that the situation has become intolerable, if you haven't already found the courage to do so. Your landlord might also want to weigh in on the discussion. I don't know what kind of lease you and Ally have, but it's time you read it closely. Many leases have clauses that restrict the number of days (and nights!) that "guests" may remain on the premises.

Add your comments to the discussion.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

Add your comments to the discussion.

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600

More like Dear Abby